Loving the Darkness
Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of Christ risen.
Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light
Going within, as we can all say from experience, is no easy task. At first the mind wanders restlessly. Then, just when we think it is finally trained to focus in the darkness, when thoughts no longer shoot in from every direction, when we feel that bliss in the dark night – one thought still remains: how long is this darkness going to last?
That one small thought can be very deadly. It can trigger a long chain of thoughts – when, where, why?
The objective is to start loving the darkness – but how? Come Be My Light is a book about the trials of Mother Teresa’s inner life. She went through a period of total emptiness. She had thoughts about God abandoning her totally. Yet while she felt as if God was not caring for her, she knew in her heart that she was a ‘child of his love’.
After reading the letters that she had written to God, Father Neuner, who was her spiritual guide, summed up her notes as follows:
My answer to the confession of these pages was simple: there was no indication of any serious failure on her part which could explain the spiritual dryness.
It was simply the dark night of which all Masters of spiritual life know. The sure sign of God’s hidden presence in this darkness is the thirst for God, the craving for at least a ray of His light. No one can long for God unless God is present in his or her heart. We cannot long for something that is not intimately close to us. Thirst is more than absence of water. Who knows more about living water, the person who opens the water tap daily without much thinking, or the thirst tortured traveller in the desert in search for a spring? Thus the only response to this trial is the total surrender to God and the acceptance of the darkness.
Thanks to Father Neuner, Mother Teresa’s understanding of her inner condition deepened – so much so that she wrote, “I have come to love the darkness.”
Although her inner struggle continued and she had to face the physical suffering of the poor around her, her attitude remained positive and worthy of praise. She wrote: “The greater the pain and darker the darkness, the sweeter will be my smile at God.”
That is real acceptance. She further stated that the darkness was not hers, but God’s as well: “I do not know whose thirst is greater, his or mine for him.”
One of her favourite prayers, offered from the depths of her heart summed up her feelings:
Take whatever he gives and give whatever he takes with a big smile.
Surrendering to his will is the most humble attitude a disciple can have. We must, however, remember this very important point – that as eager as we may be to meet our beloved Master, the Master is much more eager to receive us in his open arms. Learning to love the darkness is a beautiful experience, for it is through the darkness that the light will shine.
It is a law of spirituality that if a disciple takes one step on the path indicated by the Master, the Master takes a hundred steps to meet him.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. III
O Beloved, dearer than life, meet me now!
O compassionate benefactor of the meek
and gracious ocean of mercy – please forgive my sins.
I am restless, my entire body is in intense anguish
and tears stream from my eyes.
Every day I intensely look for you in all the ten directions,
and I pass every night counting the stars.
The suffering that I endure I cannot describe in words;
you know my inner condition, O knower of all hearts!
Like a shimmering lamp, O Lord, manifest your radiance
and dispel the darkness within me, prays Dharni.
Sant Dharnidas, as quoted in Voice of the Heart